Silas Adekunle is living the entrepreneur’s dream. He started his own company while he was in his 20s, raised millions in funding, and made a deal with the world’s largest corporation. Not only is he a success, but his story is an inspiration to anyone with a big dream and the ambition and work ethic to make it a reality.
Adekunle was born in Nigeria and showed an interest in computers and electronics at a young age. Speaking with Forbes, he recalled a computer being brought to his primary school class in his native country, with kids charged a fee to see it up close. He also accidentally caused a blackout in his family’s apartment complex when he used some spare wires to plug a battery into a wall socket. “I was lucky I didn’t get electrocuted,” he told the publication.
Things changed when his mother moved to Britain for work. The rest of the family remained in Nigeria, and communication was difficult. About two years later, when Silas was 11, he relocated to England to reunite with his mother and began attending school there. He continued to absorb knowledge about technology, watching YouTube videos about DIY robotics and learning code. In university he studied C++ programming and began testing out prototypes for what would eventually become his business.
In 2013 Adekunle founded Reach Robotics, eventually raising $10 million in financing. The company’s signature product is Mekamon, a small, spider-like robot that utilizes augmented reality (AR) technology to bring the gaming experience into the real world.
As if having his own cutting-edge technology company while still in his 20s wasn’t enough, Adekunle managed to grab one of the brass rings of tech entrepreneurship: a deal with Apple.
In 2017, Reach Robotics announced an exclusive distribution agreement with the world’s most valuable company. Following a meeting with Apple’s head of developer relations, Ron Okamoto, Adekunle visited the Apple campus in California and impressed the tech giant’s retail executives with his colourful, four-legged creations. Mekamon robots are now available at Apple Stores and online to customers across the US and UK, selling for about $200 (by comparison, Sony’s robot dog, Aibo, sells for around $3,000).
With technology that changes the robots’ behaviour according to factors like how often they’re played with and whether or not they win as well as cutting-edge AR functionality, Mekamon bots offer a unique play experience. Planned updates for the future include integrating technology to make the bots responsive to touch like a pet would be, as well as the ability to interact with and “speak to” other Mekamon robots to deepen the co-operative experience between players.
With Reach Robotics, Adekunle has not only established himself as a successful entrepreneur and tech pioneer, but he’s also paying it forward. “From a very young age I’ve always loved robotics, and at university I started teaching it in schools,” he told British magazine The Jackal. His passion paid off, and with Mekamon combining the latest in AR technology with complex robotics but marketed as a gaming device, he’s fostering a new generation; many parents are buying Mekamon bots for their children to encourage their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Meaning the next Silas Adekunle is probably out there right now, tinkering with their Mekamon to see how it works, and dreaming their own entrepreneurial dreams.
Justin Anderson | Senior Writer
Photo credit: Forbes